Ice Age 50k 2013
Competing in the Montrail Ultra Cup Series has provided me with incentive to branch out from the west coast and run ultras in other parts of the country. For that reason, three years ago, I ran the Ice Age 50 mile in Wisconsin, and the experience was well worth repeating. This year, I needed a 50k race from the series to add to Bandera 100k, Lake Sonoma 50, and the upcoming Western States 100, so the Ice Age 50k was a no-brainer.
I arrived Thursday before the race and stayed in unique childhood home of Cassie Scallon, whose parents Joyce and Mark, and dog Milo made me feel completely at ease. Cassie and I had a nice warmup run Friday morning, then I took a side trip to the grave of one of my ancestors in Wheeler Prairie, Amos Miller.
After a home cooked pasta meal, courtesy of Joyce and Mark, I had a great night sleep in the old roadside bar they have called home since Cassie’s childhood.
Cassie was up and gone to race in the earlier starting 50 miler by the time I awoke. I had breakfast of instant brown rice and a banana, plus coffee. Mark and I drove in together, taking every possible back road to LaGrange, where the race took place. I’m pretty sure back roads aren’t necessary in rural Wisconsin, especially on a Sunday morning, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s directions and his stories along the way. But the biggest take home message I got from him is how stinkin’ proud he is of his daughter.
Once at the race I got my self warmed up and my gear situated. I carried the ultraspire backpack I had worn at UTMB, as it is light weight and comfortable. It was cool and threatened of rain, so I kept 3/4 length tights, arm warmers, gloves, and warm beanie on. And at 8:15 sharp, our 50k race began!
We spread out quickly, and I was on my own for a good while, trying to dial my effort in. A 50k is pretty much like a marathon, so I wanted to put quite a bit of effort into it. I had a goal of 4:00 more or less, and knew I had to run below 8 minute pace for that, so early on I was in the 7:30 range. From 3 years ago, I remembered that the course was relatively flat, with a few small hills. Turns out my memory wasn’t that great. There were LOTS of small hills, all very runnable, so I charged up each and everyone of them, thinking they would stop. They didn’t. But at least I wasn’t getting passed on every climb by the male runners behind me, so I felt like I was having a good climbing day. About 4 miles in, Bruce and Nic from Wisconsin caught and stayed with me. I invited them to pass, and while Bruce wasn’t entirely sure it was a good idea, he did go around. Nic stayed put. Before the 6.5 mile turn around, the two lead men glided towards and around me, effortlessly, then Bruce, so I was first female at this point. Nic stayed on my heels through the next few miles, and we greeted many runners on their way out. It appeared I was in a comfortable lead of 6 – 7 minutes. However, my average pace had slowed to 8:30 pace due to the hilly nature, and as I made my way back to the start/finish area to begin the 2×9 mile loops, I was convinced a 4:30 overall time might be all I had today.
Luckily, the course flattened out over wide grassy expanses, and my pace picked up considerably. I was soon running with Nic again, and we kept a decent pace, and I watched my overall pace start to come down. We hit some deep rollers, but I was able to maintain the pace and by the time I finished the first loop, it was down to 8:15. I was pretty stoked, and had been battling with my will about how I would approach the the last loop. The part of me that was getting tired said it was okay to run the same pace, but the part of me that was competitive said I should simulate Ice Cream Sandwich run, wherein one runs as hard as they can the last 9 miles of a 50 mile day after eating an ice cream sandwich and a caffeinated sugary beverage. I finished lap one in 71 minutes, and I decided to go for it. I threw my pack off, and even though it is light weight, I felt several pounds lighter. I started to relatively fly. Nic had pulled ahead, but at this point I blew by him. Wheee! I worked the ups and downs hard, passed Cassie’s dad, passed runners who fed my ego by cheering me on. My pace continued to drop and when I finally crossed the finish line it was just under 8:00 minutes, the last lap taking 67 minutes, and I had finished in a satisfying 4:04. The two men who had led early on had DNF’d, leaving me to finish 3rd overall, 1st female.
I spent the rest of the morning waiting for Cassie, Little D, Ken, Jeff Browning, Mr. David Riddle, and others, plus met a slew of real nice folk. It was also a bonus to be able to spend time with my team managers for the World 100k Championships, Timo Yanachek and Lin Gentling.